If I could only eat one cookie for the rest of my life, it would be rugelach. There is so much to love about these rolled-up nuggets. If you’re anything like me and might have a hard time stopping at one, two, or three, store the unbaked cookies in an airtight container in the freezer, then remove just what you want to eat and bake (a toaster oven works fine). Make the cream cheese dough ahead; it needs to chill well, or it will be challenging under the rolling pin. Work quickly when rolling, slicing, and forming the cookies to keep the dough cold. Then freeze the unbaked rugelach for another few hours. They must be chilled before baking, or the very rich dough will lose its shape in the oven.
The filling recipe uses only preserves, nuts, and bread crumbs, so the flavor possibilities are endless. Omit the nuts if you wish, but I like them for the texture they bring to this sweet, silky, crunchy treat. Any preserves will work, but the best results come from smooth-textured jam. If you want to use a jam that is loose and runny or has large chunks of fruit, blend, chop, or crush the fruit and warm the jam to create a thicker, smoother texture, then cool completely before using. —MrsWheelbarrow
To make the dough, cut the butter and cream cheese into 1-inch cubes. Place the butter, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a metal bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
Transfer the chilled ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the dough forms a shaggy ball, about 20 pulses. Alternatively, cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour with a pastry cutter or two table knives to combine. Scrape the moist, sticky dough onto a floured countertop and form into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar, and bread crumbs.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the jam across the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the jam.
Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the disk into 16 wedges. Starting from the wide end of the long triangle, roll each segment up and press on the pointy end to seal. Place seam side down on the baking sheet and place the pan in the freezer for at least 2 hours. (Once frozen hard, the rugelach can be transferred to zip-lock
bags and kept frozen for up to 6 months.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the egg yolk gently on the tops of the cookies. Place another baking sheet under the cookie-filled sheet. (Stacking will keep the rugelach from burning on the bottom.) Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. The nuts and jam will have squished out a little and be a little messy; that’s okay. The bottoms of the rugelach should be caramelized, not burned. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
Stored between layers of wax paper in a tightly covered container, rugelach keep well for up to 3 weeks.
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